I very much appreciated the thoughts in a previous newsletter from Mr. Béland raising some questions about what protecting Shepody Mountain means to our county and indeed, the biodiversity and ecological sustainability of our entire province.
I can assure all that the community prepared and presented a proposal to protect Shepody Mountain in a package that was second to none. That, combined with industry communication to ensure collaboration, spoke to the fact that the homework was indeed done on this project before I ever set foot in a meeting about protecting a beautiful vista of Albert County.
Certainly, this is a small piece of land to conserve, but I am of the firm belief that every bit counts and I would not discard the value of this small part of New Brunswick’s natural landscape. To further allay concerns, the adjacent landowners have very much been engaged in the process and will work to ensure this protected area (as with all throughout the province) can be enjoyed respectfully by the public.
The final designation of protection has not been completed at this point, however; the aim is to protect it from future industrial uses including forestry, mining, and wind development (for example). Shepody Mountain has a strong community connection as well and it is frequented by hunters, hikers, mountain bikers, and snowshoers to name a few activities enjoyed there now. The type of low-impact, nature-based recreation that occurs now is not contrary to conservation efforts.
I hope that offers some insights into the process of Shepody Mountain's place in the overall picture of New Brunswick’s Nature Legacy Initiative. This initiative will see the protected areas in this province doubled. The activity and nominations have been incredible and the teams from my department have been identifying approximately 50,000 hectares per month! This has been the largest conservation initiative in the history of New Brunswick and we are well on the way to achieving the goal. Despite the many and frequent challenges we have faced over the last year, we WILL complete this goal and I am proud to say that the folks from Albert County will always be able to look to the gorgeous landscape of Shepody Mountain and say that we did it! We are responsible for protecting that land. It feels good to be a part of something so valiant in a time when so many things are uncertain. Doesn’t it?